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Double Polar Panoramic Tutorial

I <3 panoramics.  It’s a great way to bring a much larger perspective to a single photograph.  One thing that has caught my eye for some time is the Polar Panoramic.  How fun, turn our nice little 360 panoramic into a planet shaped oddity.

The snow came down this weekend, and the grounds of the museum made perfect conditions for doing such a panoramic.   So I grabbed my tripod and headed out to the grounds to finally work on my shot.  I wanted to do something slightly different, so instead of using a single 360 degree shot, I took 2 and put one inside the other.  And this is the tutorial on how I did that so that you can make your own panoramic as well.

Step 1.  Take a series of shots for your panoramic

Grab your trusty tripod and find a good spot.  Pan across the scene taking a shot every 15 degrees or so.   Make sure your photos will merge together well on the left and right sides.  And you also want to pick something with a neutral top and bottom portion of the scene.  This will make cleaning up areas later on much easier.

Step 2. Stitch your photos together

In Photoshop goto “File” > “Automate” > “Photomerge”.  This will present you with a dialog to select all of the individual photos that you want to make up your panoramic image.  The defaults should work just fine for what we want.

Step 3. Merge and Cleanup

Each image will be an individual layer in your newly merged shot.  Hit Ctrl + E (windows) or Apple + E to merge your layers into 1 single layer.  This will make working with your image more manageable.

You will most likely have some blank space in the corners and around the edges of your photo.  Select the Rectangle Marquee tool, right click on your image and select “Free Transform”.  Now right click again and select “Warp”  Use this tool to pull out the corners and fill the entire canvas with the image.

Step 4. Stretch and invert

In order to polarize your panoramic, your image needs to be a perfect square.  Goto “Image” > “Imagesize”.  Uncheck “Constrain Proportions” and set the “Height” to the same value as your width.  You should end up with something like this:

Step 5: Invert

If you are only using a single image and not merging 2 images, you would always complete this step.  In my case I am only going to invert the number sculpture as I want to put one image inside of the other.

Click on “Image” > “Image Rotation” > “Flip Canvas Vertical”  and you will get:

Step 6: Polarize

Yup, this is where you start to see your panoramic take shape.  Click on “Filter” > “Distort” > “Polar Coordinates” and make sure you select “Rectangular to Polar”.  Now your images will look like this:

Step 7: Merge the 2 panoramics

Now we need to put one image inside of  the other.  Copy the first image to your clip board.  Then open up your second image and hit paste.  Drag the new layer so that its below the larger image.  Use the Rectangle Marquee Tool to re-size and rotate your image so that it fits nicely in the middle of the larger image.

Step 8: Cleanup

Chances are you will have some empty space where the circle meets itself.  In my photo this happened at points with trees which tend to be really easy to fix.  I just used the lasso tool, Selected part of the trees and pasted those into the blank areas to fill in the space.  You could also use the clone tool to touch up these areas as well

Step 9: Fill in the blanks

Our final step is to fill in the rest of the whitespace.  In my photo the background is solid white so this one is pretty easy.  We’ll just add a white background to fill out the area along the edges.  If you have a textured background you could utilize the clone tool to fill in these areas as well.

And thats it!  Now you have created your first Polar Panoramic Image.  Make sure to share your panoramics at the IMA Flickr Group.

Filed under: Art, Technology

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